03
Dec
07

Money, Honey

12.1.07

I debated about finances for a long time. A whole month. I don’t have a whole lot of time to vacillate if I want to get a good deal on a ticket, which, after speaking to Airtreks, is much more than I anticipated. I needed money, and I needed out of debt.
Because of my fantastic habit of amassing unnecessary stuff, I owed about $6000 in credit card bills. This habit runs in the family. But I hadn’t bought any unnecessary purchases in the last three months (lattes are necessary) and I was feeling good about my new found rejection of material goods. So I had to make a decision—home equity line of credit, or take money out of my Roth IRA.
I dedicated a week each to investigating both options. The line of credit would drive up my mortgage, which I knew, when I was gone, would just barely be covered by renters. Not a valid option. Though, I liked the idea that I didn’t have to use the money until I needed it. Taking money out of my Roth would halt the compounding investors love to brag about and leave my retirement hanging like wet laundry.
I called the manager of my Roth to talk options. The woman on the other end of the line said to me, “We usually only recommend this as a last resort.” It is a last resort. Hell, if I didn’t bail out of my so-called-life fast, I was bound to claw a parent at school, grow a ten lb. beer gut, drive my car off a bridge. The withdrawal was tax-free. I wouldn’t take it all out. Plus, I had a 403B with other retirement monies, too. I was not yet 30, had at least another 30 good working years in me (dear god, remind me of this decision when I’m 55) and would still marry a man with a six-figure income and a pension for keeping me happy.
Tax free, I kept telling myself. I could finish paying off my credit cards and finally start saving money. It would be my biggest challenge: save or find $17,000 in six months. In between the first and the second phone call to my broker, I considered becoming a hooker.
Thirty minutes after I’d hung up, I called my Roth manager back. Sell it, I said. Are you sure? she’d asked. This is your retirement money. Yes, retirement. Not sit on your ass and live a mediocre life until you’re ready to have a hip replacement and take a couple cruises. And I hear the new Medicare program is efficient, that I only need three appointments, two pair of bifocals and nine county officials to help me navigate through it, so I’ll apply for that in 30 years when I should be living off this compounding $6000 I’m gonna take out. Sell that shit, I said, I’m retiring in June.

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